Giovanna Biscontin

Role: Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering

Partner: University of Cambridge

Giovanna Biscontin earned her bachelor’s degree in geotechnical engineering from the University of Padova (Italy) in 1997 and both her MS (1998) and PhD (2002) in geotechnical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley (USA). She was an academic at Texas A&M University from 2002 until joining the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University in September 2013.

Her work focuses on characterizing and modelling the response of soils and soft rocks, especially when subjected to cyclic loading, such as wind or earthquakes. Her interests are also related to offshore deposits and soft marine clays in particular. She was awarded the CAREER Award from the US National Science Foundation in 2004 on “Characterizing and Modeling of Marine Clays for Submarine Slope Stability.”

Her experimental research has been related primarily to simple shear testing and especially the effects of anisotropy and multi-directional loading. These results led to constitutive and numerical modelling of soil response for the study of the seismic triggering of submarine landslides to evaluate the effect of gentle slopes on the response to shaking. Giovanna‘s work also includes numerical modelling of offshore foundations and seafloor-riser interactions, dynamic field experiments to evaluate shear modulus nonlinearity directly from field measurement, correlations between strength and geophysical properties, design of mechanically stabilized earth walls, as well as probabilistic methods applied to geotechnical engineering design. Her current research has extended into new numerical techniques such as discrete element modelling and the material point method and focuses on a range of topics from multi-directional testing to drilling and support fluids in the oil and civil industries, foundation construction techniques, machine learning in geotechnical design, as well as bio-mediated geomaterials.

She has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including the American Society of Civil Engineering 2006 ExCEEd New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award.